Tuesday, October 21

Classes, Work-Shops, Seminar!?

It is good to learn. Some of us may spend a life time trying to learn what we find interesting. Learning any subject can be either a very easy or near impossible, and it is not just about achieving tasks. Passionately loving to learn is just one part of the equation in any learning process. The rest mostly comes from a good solid and well tried and tested “Methodology” designed for learning that specific subject with the help of a medium and any media that can do that job.

In some tango “Shops” where sadly “Tom(s), Dick(s) or Jeannets(s)” have neither a clue what a “Methodology” is nor they would give a hoot about such complexities, many students are failed by their teachers’ inability to teach. Every week they are asked and shown how to Copy moves. In certain cases Greed also plays a major part when some teacher deliberately knocks out the students’ confidence in order to ensure more frequent attendances.

The adverts come thick and fast. There was a time - NOT very long ago - when we all knew what the terms Beginner, Intermediate, Improver, or advanced meant. The word “General Class“ meant something very distinguishable from a “Technique Class”. There were sophisticated things we knew of called “Courses!”.

These "courses!" were a series of General or Technique Classes. They began at some specified level, and progressed systematically and methodically over a period of time to advanced levels. They took the students to a higher well-specified level. There were no fuzzy, willy-nilly, randomly selected clap-trap terms and names describing almost anything under the blue sky or next to nothing on a dark rainy night. There was a purpose, and aims and achievable were explained and they would be different for different courses and not the same silly paragraphs for all the meetings of the year.

Finally there were “Work-Shops”. These were special and would not be stringed together just because the teacher fancied how the words “Work-Shop” sounded in relation to their own names.

Workshops were places and times in which students who had accumulated knowledge and expertise gained from one or more “Courses” gathered and were given the opportunity to concentrate on some areas of shared difficulties. Students were able to enhance their knowledge, and to complete their fluidity.

Workshops were run by the help of true expertise of a “Master”, and in the company of students whose equal level of abilities and interests offered them the opportunity to clean up and polish what was not possible to do so in a normally attended/organised course. Workshops lasted over a few hours to “master” one topic, and they were not delivered as a series of small run-of-the-mill classes of steps & sequences!

In our current Tango scene and in many “Tango-Shops”, no one seems to teach a Class any more. For example it is now common that the poor students are often invited to take “Work-Shops” only to find themselves over-charged by a factor of 2 or 3 times to repeat another “Technique Class”. They would practice for an extra half hour of what they were meant to lean in a class and pay a lot more and still not know what it is that they are lacking!!!

The insult gets fully completed when there are talks and claims of giving a “Seminar”. Do they really know what the word Seminar means at all? Have they ever been to a college or university course, never mind those!? Have they looked up the word “Seminar” in a good dictionary? Have they then thought to ask the most basic following questions:

  • Is there going to be a small group of advanced students in a college or post graduate school engaged in some kind of “Original Research”?
  • Is there going to be an intensive study plan to discuss students’ reports and findings under the guidance of a professor who meets regularly with them over a study term?
  • Would there be a meeting for exchange of ideas in the format of a conference where equally knowledgeable researchers could discuss the merits of their own developed ideas?

Unfortunately none of the above would take place in any Tango “Seminar” organised by “Tom(s), Dick(s) or Jeannets(s)”.

So Let me just conclude that personally I would like to see more of those dedicated teachers who run proper “Tango Courses” and a lot less of those title inflated “Work-Shops”.

Maybe there will also be some hope here for disengagement of the ignorance and arrogance, and that we would not see the abuse of the word “Seminar” when a Tango Course is being advertised and sold.

The only cat who loves you back!